US Senator Menendez rejects calls to step down from Congress

    WORLD  26 September 2023 - 09:29

    US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez denied wrongdoing and vowed to stay in Congress on September 25 after prosecutors charged him and his wife with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen.

    Menendez's stance defied calls from elected officials in his state of New Jersey, including the state's Democratic governor, to step down. His decision to remain in the Senate may complicate his party's efforts to maintain their narrow 51-49 majority in that chamber, although New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

    "I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey's senior senator," Menendez, 69, said in his first public remarks since he was charged, according to Reuters.

    US prosecutors said Menendez accepted gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for wielding his influence to aid the Egyptian government and interfere with law enforcement investigations into the three businessmen.

    Prosecutors want Menendez to forfeit assets including his home, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz convertible, and $566,000 in cash, gold bars, and bank account funds.

    Menendez, his wife and the businessmen are expected to appear in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. The charges Menendez and his wife face carry a sentence of up to 45 years in prison, but judges in these types of cases usually impose less than the maximum possible sentence.

    Addressing allegations in the indictment unsealed Friday that authorities found cash stuffed in envelopes and clothing at his home, Menendez said that stemmed from his parents’ fear of confiscation of funds from their time in Cuba, AP News reports.

    “This may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years,” he said.

    Authorities recovered about 10 envelopes with tens of thousands of dollars in cash that had the fingerprints of one of the other defendants in the case on them, according to the indictment.

    Menendez’s reelection campaign could face significant hurdles besides the criminal indictment, the second one he has faced in eight years, in light of opposition from state party leaders.

    Caliber.Az

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